Rêveuse City Guide: 5 Top Places in Tokyo, Japan

Rêveuse City Guide: 5 Top Places in Tokyo, Japan


Like many, Japan has always been on our dream travel destination list. Growing up binging on Studio Ghibli movies and eating Japanese snacks helped to heighten our interest in this country that we once deemed a country so far away, and a once in a lifetime kind of trip. However, once we got to experience the city, we felt it surpassed our expectations in the best possible way. As a result, we've tried our best to narrow down our favourite spots that we enjoyed whilst visiting Tokyo.

5 PLACES TO EXPLORE IN TOKYO

ASAKUSA. This district Asakusa is a gem worth exploring as every street is filled with colour, vibrancy and life. The main attraction is of course Sensoji temple, a magnificent piece of architecture that is hard to miss with its red pillars, slated roof tiles and gold accent details. Leading up to it, you'll walk through the food and crafts stalls, some of which selling traditional Japanese objects which you can watch being made right in front of your eyes. Before you enter the Sensoji temple and the market, don't forget to take a look inside the tourist information centre, where you can see the view of Sensoji Temple from up high for free on the observation deck. The architecture of the tourist information centre is also an interesting site, designed by Kengo Kuma, who has also completed the design for the Tokyo Main Stadium for the Olympics, which has been postponed until 2021.

MEIJI. The Meiji Shrine has an atmosphere quite different to that of the Sensoji Temple. There's an idyllic peace that resonates around the vicinity of the Meiji Shrine, quite possibly due to the greenery that serenades you as you walk deep into the forest. The soothing walk that leads you to the chozuya (a large basin with special wooden dippers that is usually located at the entrance of shrines and temples. It is customary for visitors to purify themselves here before stepping on sacred grounds) makes you feel as if you're in a Studio Ghibli film. You can hear the wind chimes tinkling in the wind and the leaves swaying from side to side, as if they were here to greet you upon entering the shrine. The zen atmosphere is so different to the busy hustle that is Tokyo, so it is the perfect place to collect all your thoughts and feeling in this quiet and peaceful environment. 

CAT CAFE MONTA. If you are a crazy cat lady like us, this may be just the thing for you. Enjoy a warm cup of tea or coffee and a slice of cake whilst being surrounded by the cutest bunch of cats you ever dreamed of! On our experience we felt that the cats were well looked after, with a kitchen and divided room from the main visitor/seating area, so that the cats could have their own space from the visitors, as well as a set of rules that were highlighted before entering the cafe. There were a mixture of lively cats who zoomed playfully around the cat toys. as well as the lazy ones who just slept on the cushions where we petted their super soft fur. Possibly the softest thing I've ever felt! Definitely need to get some shampoo tips and tricks from them... 

TEAM LAB. Ever since I first laid my eyes on the infinity room 5 years ago scrolling on Instagram, it was always a dream of mine to visit Team Lab. The visit comes with a hefty entrance fee, however,  I must admit that it was the most ethereal and dreamy exhibitions I have ever experienced. The exhibition takes you on a journey; or through a maze of smaller installations and interactive pieces. The success of the exhibition is the lack of direction; it encourages the viewer to explore the boundaries of the space and get lost in a plethora of dreamy lights and projections. In one moment, you're surrounded by an infinity room of twinkling lights before you're transported to a moment of darkness and strobes of lighting flickering from one side of the room to the other. I could not recommend Team Lab enough, it's definitely worth visiting if you're interested in interactive exhibitions and bright lights. Book tickets in advance because they sell out very quickly! 

MORI ART MUSEUM. This museum focuses on contemporary art and is located in the Roppongi area. The great thing about this museum is that it houses temporary exhibitions and collections by many different artists, so you'll always have something new to look at whenever you come here. We managed to see the Dinh Q Le: Memory for Tomorrow exhibition which was a visual commentary on the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War and examined the untold stories who experienced these events. The museum also provides incredible skyline views over the city, being on the 53rd floor of the skyscraper. 
                        

OTHER MENTIONS

POKEMON CENTRE. Whether or not you're a Pokemon fan, you should definitely visit the Pokemon centre which has a few stores across Tokyo. We have nostalgic memories of watching episodes of Pokemon when we were younger, so ended up coming here to get transported back to our childhood dreams and also having heard of this place as a top recommendation. It's pretty crazy how busy the shop can get, with people rushing around the shop to find their favourite plushy or special deck of Pokemon cards and even an interactive station where you can see the hundreds of Pokemon characters and their abilities. If you want to take your obsession even further, there's even a Pokemon Cafe located in Nihonbashi. 

TSUJIRI MARKET. Tsujiri market closed in 2018 and it's inner market moved to Toyosu. However, we were near the area so just wanted to have a look around but unfortunately arrived just before the restaurants and markets were closing, so didn't get to experience or taste any yummy treats. We would still recommend having a look around the area which is steeped in history and of course fresh fish and seafood and is just an interesting place to gander around!

HARAJUKU. This is any shopper's fantasy for cute fashion and accessories. It's the center of Japan's most extreme teenage cultures and fashion styles, but also offers shopping for adults with some tourist sights such as Meiji Jingu and Yoyogi Park nearby. Even if you're not the biggest fan of shopping, it's worth coming here to experience the busy hustle of this edgy city and where you can often spot cosplayers around the area!

PLACES TO EAT

SUSHI TRAIN. If you like technology and sushi, then this is the place for you. You can get sushi at the touch of a button, seeing it transport it's way to your seat through a sushi 'train'. We came here for my birthday, Halloween, so this place was absolutely packed! They take their halloween seriously in Tokyo where what seems like everyone will be out and about at night, so we ended up waiting around 30-40 minutes to get a seat, so just keep that in mind! 

TEMPURA SHINJUKU TSUNAHACHI SOUHONTEN. We came to this little restaurant for a more authentic Japanese experience. The space is small and intimate, only holding around 10-15 people at the bar, where you can watch the chefs cut and prepare the dishes right before your eyes. The special thing about this place is that the chefs have so much care and passion for the food, which can be witnessed from the moment you enter the space, right up until you inhale the food. The menu is a little bit on the pricier side, but it's definitely worth splashing out just to have this whole authentic experience, plus the food is mouth wateringly good. Here we tried delicious small plates of tempura fried sweet potato, tempura seafood and even a tempura coated ice cream to finish off the meal!

TSUJIKI GINDACO. Tako yaki is a Japanese snack made of of flour batter, typically filled with diced octopus, tempura, pickled ginger, and green onion. We stumbled across this little vendor on a cold frosty morning and was in need of a light and most importantly hot snack to keep us going. The long queue and people carrying boxes full of tako yaki balls definitely enticed us to try these treats. You can see the chefs making them from scratch through the window, leaving you salivating as you wait in line. We have tried many takoyaki recipes in our lifetime however this was hands down our favourite ones to date (which is a big statement coming from a massive foodie) as they bursting open and filled with generous pieces of octopus. 


TIPS ON TRAVELLING IN TOKYO
  • Travelling around Tokyo can get quite pricey but there are PASMO and SUICA cards which can be pre topped up, making it easier for you to travel
  • Keep a plastic bag with you when you travel to carry all your waste in. This may be a life saver as there are hardly any bins in public as Japanese people tend to recycle their trash responsibly when they get home
  • Speaking of plastic bags, we noticed that many shops/ supermarkets are happy to give a plastic bag with your purchases. If you can, think about the environment and carry your own reusuable shopping bag!
  • Etiquette on transportation is incredibly important in Japan. Keep respectful to your surroundings but also stay safe when in crowded public transport.
  • After a meal, tipping is NOT expected or accepted in Japan, as it can be considered an insult, so just avoid it
  • For the Team Lab exhibition experience, we visited on the weekend where it was busy and had to queue a while before we were able to enter, so perhaps if your weekday is free, think about visiting during one of those days

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